U.S. Brewery Count Passes 2,000

  • 2000 BREWERIES, 2001, 2002, 2003 . . .


    A running joke during the Craft Brewers Conference last month in San Diego was that every time somebody stood up two more nanobreweries began operations. Sure enough, when the Brewers Association staff returned to Boulder after the conference it found more breweries operating. Association director Paul Gatza posted this report:


    Lo and behold:


    Our operating brewery count hit 2,051 as of April 30, 2012.The current count of craft brewers stands exactly at 2,000 and the count of domestic non-craft brewers stands at 51. (These counts are forbrick-and-mortar facilities, and does not include contract or alternating proprietorship operations so that there isn't a double-counting of breweries.)




    So when did we hit other milestones since craft brewers have been around?


    1,500 craft breweries-2008 and 1999.


    We hit this number twice, with a dip in between. 1999 was the first time in the craft brewing era. Then we slipped back under in 2001, hit a trough of 1,394 in 2005 and climbed back over 1,500 in 2008. That seems that it was not that long ago, considering we are at 2,000 now.


    1000 craft breweries-We hit this number in 1996.


    This was a period of the most openings in the craft era, with 333 brewery openings in 1996. Unlike today, more than 60% of these openings were in brewpubs. I think of this as a time when many communities got their first brewpub and there were many opportunities and good locations for pubs. The count of brewpubs from 1996 to1998 jumped from under 700 to 1,000.


    500 craft breweries


    It was only two years earlier that the craft brewery count hit 500. The year was 1994.The craft barrelage was less than a quarter of what it is today, but grew 44% off the smaller base.


    100 craft breweries


    1988 was the year. We added 40 brewpubs and 10 microbreweries that year, more than doubling the count of brewpubs in the country, and placing brewpubs as the majority of craft breweries in the country. Brewpub dominance of the craft business model reigns today, although the gap is closing as so many packaging breweries are opening. And it could flip to packaging breweries in the next couple of years. The craft brewery count was 124 in 1988. Craft brewers sold just over 316,000 barrels in 1988. The craft brewery count has grown about 16 times from then to now and craft barrelage has grown 36 times in that period.